Len Blavatnik in £700m buyout bid for Perform

Perform shares jumped 26 per cent to 256.8p

Britain’s fourth-richest person, Ukrainian-born tycoon Len Blavatnik today moved to net control of online sports rights group Perform.

Blavatnik’s Access Industries, the private vehicle which has investments in natural resources, chemicals, property and a growing media and internet portfolio including Warner Music, is offering to buy Perform's shares at the same price he floated it at three years ago - 260p cash for each share, which values it at £702 million.

That is a 28 per cent premium over the 203.8p at which Perform shares closed on Friday after it reported flat half-year profits. Today they jumped 26 per cent to 256.8p.

Access holds a 42.5 per cent stake and indicated that, while it wants to take that over 50 per cent to regain full control, it may not want a 100 per cent takeover.

Perform owns the global football website Goal, supplies sports content to bookmakers and runs the websites and TV channels of clubs like Chelsea. Last year it bought sports data group Opta before issuing a disastrous profits warning on the back of falling advertising and sponsorship revenues.

Lincoln Benet, chief executive of Access, said: “Access Industries has been a supporter of Perform from the start and we continue to have confidence in Perform’s management and in the company’s future potential.” He added that the offer would “allow those shareholders who seek an exit to do so at a significant premium to the current trading level.” At their peak, last year, the shares hit 592p.

Perform today issued a holding statement advising its shareholders to take no action.

It said: “The board reiterates its confidence in Perform Group’s standalone strategy and growth prospects as detailed in last Friday’s statement. The board remains focussed on delivering significant value for all shareholders.”

Joint chief executive Simon Denyer is one of the largest shareholders with a 9 per cent stake worth some £63 million at today’s bid price.

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